Office of the Sheriff History
The Office of the Sheriff came down to us from the common law of England, dating from the times of King Alfred (10th century England). The term “sheriff” evolved from the Old English term “shire reave.” For more than 1,000 years, sheriffs have served as peace keepers, tax collectors, keepers of jail, bailiffs of the courts, and chief law enforcement officer of the county. No other office in American history has deeper roots.
History of St. Johns County Sheriffs
During 1821, when Florida was a territory, the first Sheriff, James R Hanham, was appointed in newly formed St. Johns County, and James Pendelton was appointed Sheriff in Escambia County. From these two law enforcement officers came the legacy of Florida ‘s law enforcement. They could not have known each other well, and may never have met. However, they shared a singular distinction: The First Sheriffs of Florida.
Like many other 19th century St. Johns County Sheriffs, no photographs are available of Sheriff Hanham, and only limited information is known about his life. (It is possible he was a captain in the War of 1812 serving in the 62nd Air Defense Artillery, Company K. It is also possible he was present at a meeting of the Florida Legislative Council on July 22, 1822.*)
He served as Sheriff for a little over two years and resigned because there were no funds available to operate his office, no jail to house his prisoners, and he was facing four lawsuits over failing to pay for feeding his prisoners. (No mention is found as to where he may have been keeping the prisoners.) Sheriff Hanham was appointed by Major General Andrew Jackson, who had inadvertently misspelled Hanham’s name as “Hannum” in the appointment letter.
After Sheriff Hanham left office, there were times when St. Johns County had no sheriff. Among those who succeeded Hanham were the following, about which little is known.
Francis J. Alvice became sheriff. His actual dates of service were not recorded.
Squire Streeter – 1825 – 1827
James Marcus Gould served as sheriff from 1847 until 1848. The fiery editor-publisher of a 19th century St. Augustine newspaper was St. Johns County’s next Sheriff. James Marcus Gould was a man historians describe as brash and outspokenly belligerent toward his enemies. Like his father, who served as the Mayor of St. Augustine and as a county judge, the younger Gould had a busy life as public office holder. These positions included: Sheriff, County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, State Legislator, and Registrar of Public Lands. Like many of St. Johns County’s young men, Gould rallied to the cause of the Confederacy and was mustered into the 3rd Florida Infantry, “St. Augustine Blues,” in August 1861. He later moved to Jacksonville, where he died February 4, 1878.
Waters Smith, Sheriff – 1827 – until ?
Sheriff Smith had served as a US Marshal assigned to St. Augustine for some years before his appointment as Sheriff. During that time, his headquarters and jail was the Castillo de San Marcos. In July 1825, he was ordered by Secretary of War James Barbour to allow Sheriff Streeter to hold prisoners there, Marshal Smith apparently ignored Barbour’s orders. There was “bad blood” between him and Sheriff Streeter who complained harshly about the Marshal’s refusal.
Sheriff Jose Simeon Sanchez
Jose Simeon Sanchez was sheriff from ? until 1847. Some years before Florida became a state, Sheriff JS Sanchez took office and became the first Sheriff of St. Johns County after statehood was achieved. He was a delegate to the 1838 Constitutional Convention from St. Johns County and signed the Florida Constitution, January 11, 1839. Sheriff Sanchez was from a family with deep roots in Florida history, and his mother, Maria del Carmen Hill Sanchez, once owned the historic Sanchez house at 105 St. George Street, St. Augustine. He was born January 4, 1797, and besides serving as Sheriff, he also served as one of the State’s first legislators.
Michael Usina, Sheriff – 1848. Sheriff Usina’s roots are traced to the Minorcan settlers of Turnbull’s New Smyrna colony, who subsequently came to St. Augustine. It appears that he was a kindly man, as city records indicate he offered to pay for the schooling of four poor children of the city.
Jacob Mickler, Sheriff – 1854 until 1855.
Raphael Bartolome Canova, Sheriff – 1848-1853. A number of St. Johns County Sheriffs descended from the Minorcans, and Sheriff Canova would not be the last. The 1850 census shows Raphael Canova, 29, as Sheriff and Tax Collector who owned real estate valued at $300. He was the father of four children and was elected Mayor of St. Augustine on November 17, 1860, serving until 1867.
Sheriff William Felilx Mickler
William Felilx Mickler, Sheriff 1864-1865. One of the most dashing of St. Johns County’s earliest Sheriffs, William Felix Mickler, served next. He was a civil engineer by trade who fought in the Seminole Indian Wars and served in the State House of Representatives in 1860 and 1861. He was also a member of the secession convention, which voted to withdraw Florida from the Union. With the advent of the Civil War, he joined Captain William Cone’s Company in Scott’s Battalion and was later appointed Lieutenant in the artillery. He helped plant torpedoes in the St. Johns River and fought in the Battle of Olustee. He eventually rose to the rank of Colonel. Sheriff Mickler became the last survivor of the state’s secession convention when he died April 24, 1927, at the age of 90.
Paul Sabate, Sheriff – 1855 until 1857.
A D Rogero, Sheriff – 1857 until 1861 and 1866 until 1867. Sheriff Rogero was one of only two Sheriffs in St. Johns County’s history to have served split terms, it appears that Sheriff Rogero’s first term was interrupted by the Civil War. During the Civil War, St. Augustine was occupied by Federal troops and marshal law was imposed. From 1861 until 1864, there are no records of a Sheriff serving in St. Johns County.
H Hernandez, Sheriff – 1874 until 1877.
A N Pacetti, Sheriff – 1877 until 1881. A. Pacetti was a second generation descendant of the Minorcan and Italian families that migrated to Saint Augustine after the failure of the British colony in New Smyrna. Born in 1829, he worked as a sea captain and served in the United States Navy during the Seminole Indian Wars. Pacetti was initially opposed to Southern secession from the Union, and when war broke out, he volunteered to transport Northern visitors to safe haven in US occupied Key West under a flag of truce. On one such journey, his flag was ignored by the Union Navy. Pacetti’s vessel was seized, and he was charged with treason. While being held for trial, he jumped overboard and escaped to the mainland with the help of many friends on the Keys. He enlisted in the Confederate Navy the next day and served as a Captain in Tampa, Florida and Mobile Bay, Alabama.
Pacetti returned to Saint Augustine after the War and married his second cousin, Amelia Monson–sister to A V Monson, who founded the Monson Hotel. Pacetti raised two daughters (that survived childhood), and four granddaughters in a house of 56 Marine St, which still stands. Along with his work as Sheriff, he was was proprietor of Capo’s Bathhouse on Bay Street and ran a confectionery on Charlotte Street that was famous for its “milk punch”. He was a well-known local storyteller and wrote brief memoirs of his military experiences in his old age. Captain Pacetti died in 1913 at the age of 83, leaving his wife (who lived 96 years) and his family, who remained on Marine Street until the late 1970s.
Raymond Hernandez, Sheriff – 1881 until 1888. Sheriff Hernandez held the distinction of having served longer than any of his predecessors. The politics and rigors of the job during the early years were doubtless contributors to their short terms in office.
H H Floyd, Sheriff – 1888 until 1889.
Silas E Davis, Sheriff – 1897 until 1901. It must have been a great honor to have served as Sheriff at the turn of the Century. Sheriff Silas Davis had a distinguished career in law enforcement. He was also St. Augustine’s Town Marshall and Chief of Police. His legacy in law enforcement continues today. Sheriff Davis’ son, Silas Davis Jr., served as Police Commissioner for the City of St. Augustine and his sons, Silas Davis and Mark Davis, were deputies with the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office in the 1970’s through the early 2000’s. Sheriff Davis has 2 great grandsons in law enforcement, one being Silas E. Davis III, who is with the University of Las Vegas Police Reserve. In addition, great-great grandson Kevin Mark Davis is police officer with the Liberty University Police Dept in Lynchburg, VA. The law enforcement tradition is a continuing tradition in Sheriff Davis’ family.
Charles Joseph Perry, Sheriff – 1889 until 1897 and 1901 until 1919. Although Sheriff Joe Perry served split terms, he was the longest serving Sheriff of our county’s history, having been elected and reelected seven times for a total of 26 years as Sheriff. Before becoming Sheriff, he served as deputy sheriff in Putnam county and in St. Johns County under Sheriff Floyd. By all available accounts, he was known for being a “big, bold man,” at 6’6″ and weighing 300 pounds. He was apparently very popular and reputed to have gone on the most dangerous calls right along with his deputies until the last couple of years of his term, as he was very ill. He died in office on February 7, 1919, at the age of 56.
Prior to Sheriff Joe Perry, there is almost no information available about Deputy Sheriffs who served with Sheriffs or what their jobs were like. Among the Deputies who served with Joe Perry: Raymond Sabate, Charles F. Perry (Sheriff’s son), Guy White, Joe Appler (who was later indicted and then cleared in a murder case), and Charles Green.
It was during Sheriff C. J. Perry’s tenure that the first known Deputy Sheriff was killed in the line of duty. Deputy Guy White was killed while in the act of disarming four prisoners on March 5, 1911, at Espanola, Florida. White had deputized Abe Schenider, a local businessman, to assist him with the arrest. Schneider was also killed. At that time, Espanola was in St. Johns County.
Elmer E Boyce, Sheriff – 1919 until 1942. The next era in law enforcement here was headed by Sheriff Elmer Boyce. He took office in 1919 and held the office for twenty-three years. He was very well thought of in the community, according to the local newspapers at the time. Under Sheriff Boyce’s leadership, moonshiners and other illegal, homemade liquor manufacturers were aggressively pursued.
Remember, the Prohibition Era was during his tenure. It was common practice for Sheriff Boyce or one of his senior Deputies to bust a still, gather up the goods and head for the city gates by the bayfront. This allowed a chance for newspaper persons and other local citizens to see that Sheriff Boyce and his deputies were working, and they were working hard!
Sheriff Boyce had many problems that we still contend with today; the busting up of moonshine stills, the death of three deputies, complaints about his jail, and not enough funds due to a fee system in place during his tenure.
On November 4, 1927, Deputy P. A. Turlington was killed in a vehicle crash while en route to an emergency call. Deputy Turlington had completed bringing a prisoner to the jail from his district in Hastings when he received a call of three robbers on the loose in his district. While responding, his steering gear apparently failed. This caused him to catapult through the windshield, killing him. Deputy Turlington left behind a wife and children.
On May 7, 1933, Deputy Lamar Knight and Deputy Frank Quigley were shot and killed. They were en route to a disturbance call when they saw two individuals matching the description of the suspects on Mill Creek Road. While the deputies questioned the men (Clarence Baker and Ike Williams), Ike Williams turned and shot both deputies. Deputy Knight was killed instantly, and Deputy Quigley died later at the hospital. Both suspects were arrested and charged. Sheriff Boyce was succeeded upon his death on November 27, 1942, by Governor-appointed, and later elected, Sheriff J. T. Shepard.
T. Shepard, Sheriff – 1942 until 1949. In 1946, Sheriff Shepard was responsible for extensive experimental work in the use of the new two-way radio. It proved exceptionally valuable to county law enforcement. The first system consisted of a low band transmitter and two cars having two-way radio sets. Sheriff Shepard was also the first Sheriff to put his deputies on light (8) hour shifts.
The period of 1900-1950 saw the addition of traffic problems, and the Prohibition Era came and went. Higher standards of inmate security and housing had to be implemented. Along with these issues came the support of new technology to assist the Sheriff and his deputies.
Sheriff’s Office personnel had to deal with serious financial concerns. In the early years, the Sheriff’s Office was solely supported by the goodwill of the town and the fee system. Guess which paid more, and not by a lot? This did not allow a Deputy Sheriff to draw a respectable salary by any means. The rewards of the job were not monetary, but from the self-respect gained by job performance. The June 16, 1933, issue of the Hastings Herald deplored the fee system. The paper said that this system caused law enforcement officials to “commercialize on their authority for the sake of fees, instead of exercising their authority in an effort to keep the peace. . . ” In the 1950’s, the fee system was replaced by a more sensible portion of the county’s tax revenue being allotted to the management of the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Lawrence O. “L.O.” Davis – 1949 until 1970. Sheriff Davis held office for 21 years. During those years, society saw a changing culture. In 1952, a new jail was completed, and Sheriff Davis moved his headquarters from the old jail on McWilliams Street to a new jail on Lewis Speedway.
One of Sheriff Davis’ deputies, Deputy Masters, was on the beach patrolling and found a man sleeping on the beach. Deputy Masters, being in civilian clothes, wearing a gun and a very small Sheriff’s shield, approached the man. When the man awakened, he saw Deputy Masters’ gun and thought he was being robbed. The man then reached for his gun, and Deputy Masters shot the man. Later at the hospital, Deputy Masters asked the man why in the world did you go for a gun? The man said, “I thought your were trying to rob me.” The next day, Deputy Masters went down to the store, bought khaki work shirts and slacks, and pinned his shield on his shirt. Later Sheriff Davis got patches, and they were sewn onto the khaki shirt. From there, our current Sheriff’s uniform developed into what it is today.
It was also during Sheriff Davis’ time that the first marked patrol car was put on the street. Painted green and white with a star on the sides, the car was assigned to Deputy Noah Carter.
One major development that his tenure as Sheriff saw was the civil rights movement. In 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King was arrested by deputies and booked into the St. Johns County Jail. Shortly afterwards, Dr. King and others were released from jail.
Sheriff Davis was one of the founders of the Florida Sheriff’s Boys Ranch, which grew from a small camp on the banks of the Suwannee River to a working ranch system, serving thousands of Florida’s children every year.
In 1970, then Governor Claude Kirk removed Sheriff Davis from office based on allegations made by several individuals. Governor Kirk had appointed Dudley Garrett, to take Sheriff Davis’ place.
In the 1972 election, “L.O.” Davis tried to regain the office, but lost to Sheriff Garrett.
Sheriff Dudley Garrett – 1970 until 1980. Sheriff Garrett served as an Alachua County Deputy Sheriff, working his way up to Patrol Commander there before going to work as an investigator for the State Attorney’s Office, 7th Judicial Circuit. Sheriff Garrett’s tenure saw unprecedented growth in St. Johns County. A quiet man, he was known for his relentless pursuit of drug dealers, a developing crime problem of the 1970s, which plagues law enforcement to this day.
Sheriff Garrett expanded the patrol unit and established shifts to cover the county 24 hours a day. He adopted the first policy manual and upgraded the equipment needed to perform the duties of law enforcement. He was often seen at crime scenes or as a backup unit, and on one such occasion had to shoot an armed man who was holding a child hostage.
The decade of the 1970s was transitional for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Despite all the improvements, life was still very difficult for deputies and corrections officers. The pay was low, the hours long, and there were just not enough people to do the job. Back-up for a road deputy often took 30-45 minutes, and a corrections officer ran the jail by himself overnight.
Francis M. O’Loughlin, Sheriff – 1981 until 1985. A St. Augustine City Police Officer for more than 20 years, Sheriff O’Loughlin settled in St. Augustine after a tour in the US Navy. He was well known in the county and was committed to upgrading and improving the Sheriff’s Office operations. As he took office, the promise of change and growth was in the air.
In 1981, the Sheriff’s Office was fragmented, with administrative offices and a small communications center in the downtown courthouse while the Patrol Division and Investigations Unit were housed in old railroad houses near the county jail. All the facilities were too small and in very poor condition, particularly the jail.
Sheriff O’Loughlin obtained funding and planned a state-of-the-art county jail and Sheriff’s Administration Building in order to have all the inmates and the Sheriff’s Office located in one area. These projects were not completed until after Sheriff O’Loughlin left office, but they stand as a testament to his vision
Neil J. Perry, Sheriff – 1985 until 2005. Sheriff Perry tackled the challenge for needed change in the Sheriff’s Office that had begun with his predecessors. With vision and forethought, Sheriff Perry diligently and conscientiously led the Sheriff’s Office through a series of improvements to the crowning achievement of attaining nationally accredited status in 1991.
The accreditation accomplishment was filled with milestones along the way. To address the chronic low salary issue, a pay plan was established. Another milestone was the implementation of regular professional training through the shared academy concept, pooling resources among Clay, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties.
As part of the training emphasis, a college program that brings classes to the squad room was establish. Members/appointees can fulfill degree requirements in the program through agreements with Nova-Southeastern University, Vincennes University, Troy State University, and Saint Leo College.
In order to bring more effective coverage to the citizens and visitors, other milestones were achieved. The E-911 System was implemented to facilitate faster deputy response. The Watch Commander concept was put in place to enable a command officer to be on duty at all times, and then the current sector plan was established to ensure that deputies were assigned and available across the county.
Other milestones included the establishment of a Victim Witness Coordinator program, implementation of a Police Athletic League (PAL), negotiation with the School District for shared funding of School Resource Officers (SRO’s), and serving all public schools with programming such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE).
Sheriff Perry began his law enforcement career as a member of the St. Augustine Police Department Reserves. In 1974, he joined the Sheriff’s Office and served as a Reserve Deputy, Patrol Deputy, Detective and Captain, prior to taking office as Sheriff.
Today, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is recognized across the state as one of the most progressive law enforcement agencies in Florida. There is a long established history of professional excellence demonstrated by countless sheriffs, deputies and others who have served St. Johns County’s citizens so well since 1821.
David B. Shoar, Sheriff – Elected to the office of Sheriff in November 2004. Assumed the duties of Sheriff on January 1, 2005.
Sheriff Shoar not only has a long and distinguished law enforcement career, but an equally distinguished career in the Military.
Sheriff Shoar began his law enforcement career as a police officer with the St. Augustine Police Department in December 1981. After being a patrol officer for 10 years, he was promoted to Sergeant. He was promoted to Operations Commander in 1997 overseeing the Patrol and Detective Divisions. He became the Administrative Services Commander in 1999. In May of 2000, he was appointed Chief of Police. Sheriff Shoar retired from the Police Department after being elected to serve as the Sheriff of St. Johns County.
Concurrent with Sheriff Shoar’s law enforcement career is the 20 years he has been a member of the Florida Army National Guard. He began as an enlisted soldier and eventually earned a commission as an officer through the Florida National Guard Military Academy’s Officer Candidate School in 1988. He has been a platoon leader, company executive officer and unit commander and has served our country and state during several operations, including Operation Desert Shield/Storm and during relief efforts after Hurricanes Andrew and Opal. He retired at the rank of Major.
Academically, Sheriff Shoar is a 1998 graduate of the 193rd session of the FBI’s National Academy, a 2003 graduate of the 46th session of the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar and 2004 graduate of the 35th session of the Chief Executive Seminar sponsored by the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute.
History of the Sheriff Video
History of St. Augustine
In 1513 Don Juan Ponce de Leon first set eyes on the North American continent. He claimed the land he saw for Spain and called it La Florida or land of flowers.
Historical St. Augustine, located in St. Johns County, is the oldest European city in the United States. It was founded in 1565 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles several decades before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock or the settlers established Jamestown, Virginia.
The little Spanish settlement met with many hardships including attacks by the English. It was during these times of attacks that the Castillo de San Marco was built. Amazingly, St. Augustine came under British rule peacefully. During 1783-1821, St. Augustine was given back to the Spanish under the Treaty of Paris. In 1821, Florida became a US territory and then in 1845 gained statehood.
History of St. Johns County
St. Johns County’s history begins in 1821, when Colonel Robert Butler received Spanish East Florida from Captain General Colonel Jose Coppinger. Butler represented Major General Andrew Jackson, Governor of the Provinces of the Floridas, exercising the powers of the Captain General and the Intendents of the Island of Cuba and the Governors of the said provinces, respectively, who ordained that all of that country lying east of the Suwannee river should be designated as the County of St. Johns.
St. Johns was established along with Escambia County on July 21, 1821, just eleven days after Butler received Florida for the United States, and only five days from the time St. Augustine was incorporated. The name St. Johns was created from the Spanish Mission (1590) San Juan del Puerto/St. John’s of the Harbor. The apostrophe was dropped in 1932 by the Department of the Interior because the apostrophe showed ownership.
It was a huge county, encompassing more than 39,000 square miles, 475 miles long by 165 miles wide. Further, except for Maine, St. Johns County was larger than all eleven states of the Union at that time. Much of the county was uninhabited. St. Augustine was the oldest European permanent settlement, and there were Native Americans in the county as well.